The 2016 Determination Letters on State Implementation of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was released this month. It requires each state to develop a performance plan and annual performance report that evaluates the state’s efforts.

Donald Easton-Brooks, dean of the University South Dakota School of Education, said it shows the South Dakota must develop better systems for children from birth to age 2. “This is a huge wake-up call for the state. As we delay in responding to the needs of our young children and families, we put pressure on state and community systems. This includes, schools, social service agencies, the medical/health field and taxpayers,” he said.

South Dakota is listed in the 2016 report among the states that meet the requirements of the act for students with disabilities from age 3 to 21.

But for the second consecutive year, South Dakota is also among those listed as a state that “needs assistance” with infants and toddlers. According to the report, that means the Department of Education must take one or more enforcement actions, which can include requiring the state to receive technical assistance, designate the state as a high-risk grantee or direct the use of state set-aside funds to the area(s) where the state needs assistance.

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